1900-1950

  • In 1916 an ambulance was purchased, which also doubled as a patrol wagon. This replaced the horse drawn vehicle.
  • In 1923 the department grew to 6 officers. During this time, DeKalb had the reputation of being one of the most orderly cities of its size in Illinois due to the highly efficient police force.’ Chief James Scott won his way up to the ranks and was respected by lawbreakers. Especially since the prohibition amendment and the Volstead law went into effect and the supplementary state regulations, DeKalb took pride in being clean and orderly in every way.
  • In 1924 a Gamewell police alarm system was installed with 12 boxes being strategically placed about the city where officers could contact the police station. Lights were placed on poles along Lincoln Highway from John Street to the railroad tracks at 10th and Oak streets. When the desk officer received a call he would turn on these lights. The street officer would then go to one of these locations and call into the station to receive his call for service.
    • During this time, one of the main problems for law enforcement were traffic violations. To handle this problem, the department created a traffic division where a motorcycle was used to deal with these violations. It was known that the motor officer was courteous but he did not hesitate to be severe when necessary.
  • In 1947 the department grew to a workforce of 12 – 1 Chief of Police, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Captain, and 9 officers. The Chief of Police earned $214 per month; the Captain and Lieutenant received $197.50 per month; and an officer made $192.50 per month. Two part time officers were hired to work during the regular police officers days off. They also worked part time for the fire department.
  • During the 1940s, the Mayor hired police officers. Every July the Mayor would submit a list of employees to the City Council. If a person’s name was not on the list, they were dropped from the city payroll. The officer would check this list to see if he was still employed.
    • Employees of the police department received little benefits. If an officer was injured on the job, the city would pay them for 6 months. If the officer was unable to return work after this time, he was terminated. The city paid for the officer’s first uniform – 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, 1 overcoat, a gun belt and holster (used), one .38 caliber pistol (used) and 2 stars – sometimes the stars had different numbers on them.
    • The duties of a police officer were to handle accidents, traffic control, bar fights, family disputes collect parking fines, serve as a school crossing guard, and assist on ambulance calls. An officer was expected to work off duty with no extra pay for special events – street dances, sporting events, concerts, etc. It was common for a police officer to make house checks for citizens on vacation, deliver Sunday papers to political friends, and deliver prescription drugs to shut-ins. I
  • In 1949 DeKalb service clubs bought 2 way radios for the department. This allowed communication between squad cars, as well as to other departments. The 2 squad cars and city ambulance were equipped with the 2-way radio. Two service cars and a motorcycle were equipped with 1-way radios. This allowed the department to become modernized and have the ability to cope with rapid travel.
    • The department also had the need to keep a more efficient means of record keeping. A card file system was utilized – information was kept on 3 inch by 5 inch index cards of persons who came in contact with the police.